There is a certain calm when I overlook this valley. The type of calm that comes from remembering the simplicity of my early years in this valley. I spent my entire youth living on our farm. Early memories include glimpses of barbed wire fences and bunches of grass that were taller than a five year old.
The complete assurance that the day was yours to conquer however you see fit, whether it be crawling through the hay field playing army or just playing in the dirt. It seemed totally normal to spend an entire summer day in discovery. Everything was an adventure.
Seems things remained static back then. I’m sure change came, but it was disguised as subtle differences rather than actual changes. Many times, someone else would point out the changes for you because a young child would not have the experience to know there was something out of the ordinary taking place. I understand now that it was due to everything being new to a kid living through only his fifth or sixth summer. It’s all new and exciting.
Family life on a farm in Erda was great, but once again, I had nothing to compare it to. I remember being happy about most everything. We would arise and do the chores, whatever you were asked to do. Then the rest of the day would be devoted to things like helping grandpa ‘watch’ the water in the fields. Our farm was irrigated by flooding the fields. Looking back, I see that watching the water was a fairly low-key job. I know now that grandpa was really musing about life when he was watching the water. Every now and then, action would be required to fix a dam or plug a leaky dike. When it came time to ‘change’ the water, it merely meant clearing the dam from where it was and moving it down to the next section. It was important to use the proper lingo, otherwise nobody would know what you were talking about.
Water came by two methods – first there was ‘the well’. The well was located on the corner of the farm, which conveniently enough, was also the highest elevation on the farm. I still marvel at how intuitively I can judge elevation of the ground – comes in very handy for marbles and golf. The pump, in my early years, had no pump house. It was a huge R2-D2 looking thing that had a six-inch pipe coming out of it.
I remember being fascinated by tossing a rock into the pipe and listening to the rock clang down the pipe until it splashed into the water. I also remember the look on my father’s face when I showed him that little trick. Imagine it, watching your five year old show you how a rock sounds as he throws it into the well that is vital to your farm. Fortunately, dad was an amazingly understanding man.
The pipe emptied into a catch-basin. This catch-basin had two openings in it – depending upon whether you wanted to send the water west or north. I loved it when it went west because that took the entire stream of water into a concrete ditch that was awesome for boating. I could spend hours putting a boat in at the start of the ditch and chasing the boat until it exited the concrete portion of the ditch. Then, I would grab it and run back up to the start and do it again. I was easily amused.